New York State Wants To Know Everything About Your Cycling Habits

Cyclists and scooter uses on Crescent Street, just a handful of the cyclists New York State wants to hear from. Photo: Macartney Morris
Cyclists and scooter uses on Crescent Street, just a handful of the cyclists New York State wants to hear from. Photo: Macartney Morris

It’s a cycle of understanding.

New York is asking bike riders across the state to participate in what it’s calling the first New York Bike Census (it’s more of a voluntary survey than the decennial Census, but roll with it) in order to get a better idea of how (and why) people bike around in the Empire State (or don’t).

“The New York Bike Census is an unprecedented effort to collect detailed data on bicycle transportation across the state,” the survey from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Urban Cycling Solutions says at the top. “Your responses … will help shape the future of multimodal transportation in New York State. By helping us understand where, and how New Yorkers use bicycles as well as the real and perceived barriers to active transportation, you can help planners, and policy makers invest in safer, more equitable multimodal streets.”

The survey is looking for plenty of information from you, the humble city cyclist — including basics such as how often you ride your bike and how often you get around by other modes; whether you ride for fun, to shop, to get exercise and, what kind of cyclist you consider yourself (“romantic” is not a possible answer unfortunately), but also how you consider the bike infrastructure in your neighborhood. But NYSERDA also wants to know why you don’t bike (if you don’t) and whether you’d be more likely to bike if you had training classes or access to an e-bike (a question that could explain why the survey is being conducted by a state energy authority).

There’s also an entire section of the survey regarding your relationship with cycling and transit: How close is your nearest transit stop and how long it takes to bike there, whether you connect your bike rides with mass transit and what keeps you from doing that, and — again in a very interesting twist — whether you would pay a small fee to put your bike in secure parking at a transit hub. (The survey takers also want to know if you’d be more likely to bike to a transit hub if it had a coffee shop and/or bike repair on site.)

Also, like any good survey, it has a box for you to write about any further thoughts on cycling or anything you feel like the survey writers might have missed, like various other failings of your local Department of Transportation or the state DMV.

NYSERDA and Urban Cycling Solutions do write that the survey is “part of a statewide study on bicycle integration with transit,” but the policy questions point to more than just the MTA cautiously accepting cyclists or adding bike parking. For instance, since 2020, Assembly Member Robert Carroll and state Sen. Julia Salazar have backed a bill requiring NYSERDA to create a rebate program for e-bike purchases (just as the agency does with cars). Results from the survey will be publicly shared and made freely available to any municipal government, advocacy group or stakeholder in  the state.

So go ahead and go check off some boxes and help guide the state into a glorious two-wheeled future.